News


For the past several years we have had good news to share about the SHBP rates and while for the most part, this is true again for 2022, there is some bad news for the early retiree group in county and municipal government.

As we go through these numbers, please understand that national estimates on medical inflation are 6.5%-7% for 2022.

State Employees

We can start with the State Group (Active and Retired State Employees). For active members in Direct 15, HMO and Tiered Plan (commonly Omnia) your total rates will DECREASE by 4.8%. For those of you who have moved into the new CWA Unity Plans your rates have INCREASED 4.8% as of the writing of this update, we are not aware of PBA units who have actually migrated into this plan.

This data shows one of two things,  that either the other units are benefitting from our lower cost risk pool or that the executive branch and their actuary for the set the original rates for the new plan artificially low.

For State Early Retirees (those from retirement to age 65) you will see an INCREASE between 4.4% or 4.6% depending on your plan selection (Direct 15 is 4.6% higher). State Medicare retirees will see an INCREASE of 4.9% for 2022.

Active County and Municipal Employees

Members in this group have once again done very well with increases ranging from 1.9% to 2.4% with Direct 10 and 15 experiencing a 2.3% INCREASE, which is very favorable comparing to the public sector and national indices.

Now the bad news.

Early County and Municipal Retirees ( under age 65)

Let me start by saying that in 2018, AON presented that the reserve fund had been growing at a tremendous rate. We knew that this money belonged to the true payors and lobbied that it be returned to the members, towns and municipalities which it was through short term rate reductions. This resulted in a rate DECREASE of just under 37%. Since then, that reserve has been exhausted and there is just no more money to use to subsidize the rates which will effectively RAISE 2022 rates 31.8%. The Commission, who sets the rates actually reduced the PROJECTED reserve to 0.1 months for 2022 in order to smooth the hike as much as possible.

Now before you kill the messenger, we would like to quote from the September 2018 COPS Magazine Article on health benefits, “It is important to remember that these rates are a result of events that are one time occurrences and, without design changes are unsustainable. The assignment of excess funds from the CSR and the lowered experience (which may or may not continue) gave us an adjustment for 2019. National trends range from 4 percent to 10 percent increases,…”

When analyzing the rates over time you should know that the 2022 rates even with the increase due to the removal of the CSR subsidy, are LOWER than they were in 2018 as shown in the graph above.

In fact the average yearly raise from the beginning of plan year 2013 through the end of 2022 is under 1.6%. Now we know this doesn’t put any money in your pocket but the context has to be solely in the realm of health benefits and that is what this is meant to explain. 

Now what does that mean to you? If you do not contribute to your health benefits or pay a percentage of your pension toward health benefits, it should have no effect on you.

Chapter 330 members have some decisions to make, as you know, Chapter 330 retirees have an arrangement where the state pays 80% of the lowest cost managed plan so for 2022 that baseline is determined off of the Horizon HMO 2030. While the rates are not yet out for Chapter 330, my calculations would show that a family that is in that plan with no members that are Medicare age would go from paying $380.99 to paying $500.78 a month. As members chose plans with higher actuarial value, that cost will increase to where Direct 10 could go from $850.89 a month to $1,129.06 a month by my calculations.

For early retirees who are contributing to their premiums due to Chapter 78, the math is pretty simple, increase your contribution for your current plan by 31% so if you are single in Direct 10 and your pension is $80,000 a year you would be contributing 34% of the cost of your healthcare. The premium is currently $957.58 per month which would leave you a contribution of $325.58 a month in 2021. In 2022 with a premium of $1,262.95 you would be contributing $429.40.

Understanding that this is substantial and that most of our members in retirement are in Direct 10 and 15, the harsh effect on your pension checks will most likely make you look for cost savings. As open enrollment is in the near future, I will make sure that we do a plan comparison so you can make decisions that are best for you and your family.

Medicare Age (65+) County and Municipal Retirees

These retirees for the Medicare Advantage population are also suffering a higher than usual raise of 6.9% on their premium. This is due to an 8.4% on medical and a 5.7% increase on prescription coverage These rates are much lower so the numbers are not as paralyzing but none the less in line with national trends.

What about the Teachers Premium Holiday

What makes this early retiree increase hard to swallow is the fact that the Educators just announced that the employees and school districts will not pay premium in February and will have a premium decrease.

That all sounds great in a press release but here are the facts.

In 2016, we took bold steps to control costs in the SHBP, the School Employee’s Plan did not, this resulted in huge savings for both actives and retirees. These savings are what have kept our premiums lower than theirs to this day. For 2022, the SHBP Direct 10 monthly rate for a family, including prescription is $2,726.15. The SEHBP monthly premium for 2022 is $2,864.65. To simplify the SEHBP plan is $138.50 more a month than the SHBP which is $1,662 more a year or 5.1% more for the School Employees Direct 10. A one month holiday would be an 8.33% reduction for one year.

This does not take into the 5 years that the School Employees paid more than us before making substantive changes in plan design to restrict abusive and predatory practices from occurring. This whole Holiday is the SEHBP giving the members back their own money, ironically in an election year. The educators plan continues to withhold the members money from them by maintaining a projected 6.3 month balance of premiums in the bank (the recommended number is 2 months). It is also important to know that retirees up to age 65 were forced into this plan.

Like the CWA plan, the new Educators plan changed payments from a Fair Health index to a Medicare index for out of network services. The percentage that they chose (200) sounds good, but is far lower than the current Fair Health National 90th percentile. This could expose our members to OON providers looking for larger payments from the member. The CWA/Direct 2019 plan rates show this concept, while possibly feasible in other payment structures, was flawed. The problem with relying on the in network payment structure, is that nobody but the carrier truly knows what it is!

Lastly is that in our experience, when new plans are developed the rates are set artificially. They are based on actuarial science, but not always exact. We suspect that the CWA/Direct plan premiums were set too low and that could have been one of the reasons for the almost 10% swing between plans this year. We hope their plan is successful and will watch it closely, but until the state demands network transparency from the carriers, we have to tread lightly in this realm.

Effect on Negotiations

No doubt, if you are in negotiations this will be a topic an employer will bring up, the fact of the matter is that local employers got a break for 4 years because of plan design changes and the rates are still LESS than they were in 2018. Remind them of that if they think it should have a place in negotiations, its also important for you to know that SHBP rate increases over the cap are outside of it.

A Bill was introduced yesterday to permit officers to review body worn cameras.
 
Legislation was introduced yesterday, Assembly Bill 5864, that will eliminate the prohibition on officers being able to review their body worn cameras (BWC) while writing their initial reports. We look forward to the Senate Bill very soon.
 
The prohibition on reviewing BWC images for report writing has been a concern for the State PBA since it became a part of Attorney General policy a few years ago.  And during the consideration of the bill to mandate BWC use by police the State PBA publicly lobbied to permit officers to review camera footage.  Unfortunately, the current restriction on reviewing camera footage presents significant concerns for law enforcement officers in writing clear and detailed reports.
 
Fortunately, the bill has been fast trackedand is already scheduled for a vote in the Assembly Homeland Security Committee on June 14th.  The State PBA will strongly support it.
 
We commend Assemblywoman Shanique Speight (D-Newark), a State PBA member and Essex County Sheriff’s Officer, who recognized the serious implications of preventing an officer from reviewing their BWC for report writing and requested the bill be drafted soon after the BWC mandate took effect.  State PBA President Colligan, Executive Vice President Kovar and Director of Government Affairs Nixon met with the Assemblywoman at the State PBA office to discuss the bill and other pressing matters facing law enforcement.  The State PBA is grateful for her leadership on this issue and for being a thoughtful voice for law enforcement as a member of the Legislature. 

New Jersey State Policemen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Colligan today released the following statement based on the Supreme Court of New Jersey’s decision on Attorney General Gurbir Grewal’s directives to release internal affairs and personnel records going back decades. As the chief law enforcement officer in our state, the Attorney General’s directives overturn long-standing protections afforded to law enforcement by statute and regulation.

“The State Supreme Court’s decision is both frustrating and disappointing. The NJSPBA does not and will not protect bad officers who violate the public trust and, yet, the 99.9% of good men and women serving in law enforcement continue to find themselves under attack. We are pleased that the court recognized that many officers only resolved disciplinary actions because they received specific promises of confidentiality which they relied upon, and that they are entitled to a hearing before release of any information regarding events that may have occurred decades ago.  We continue to be disappointed in the Attorney General's ongoing refusal to meet with us to discuss fairness within police reform as well as his continuing attacks on law enforcement.”

This letter from the Chair of the PFRSNJ Board of Trustees is being sent this morning to the Certifying Officers of all PFRS locations. This letter will answer many of the questions that have been asked.

View Additional Information Here

Despite all the claims to the contrary, the criminal justice system in the United States works, even when the person accused of a crime is a police officer.  The trial and unanimous conviction on all counts of former police officer Derek Chauvin in Minnesota conclusively demonstrates that officers can be, and in fact are, held to the same standards of justice as all other citizens in our nation, as they should be.  The facts of the case surrounding the murder of George Floyd present a horrific tragedy on so many different levels.  At the most basic, a man lost his life needlessly at the hands of an officer.  At the same time, the assertions by so many who wish to demonize all police officers because of the actions of one officer have been shown to be hollow.

Due process rights do not prevent the investigation, charging, trial, and conviction of a police officer.  Neither does qualified immunity.  Neither do police unions, associations, or legal defense plans.

Police departments, unions, associations, prosecutors, and defense attorneys all have their proper role to play, and all citizens, including officers who are accused of a crime, are entitled to their day in court and to have an impartial judge and jury weigh the evidence against them.  They are entitled to have their side of the issue heard and considered.  And all of us must respect the decisions of the court system when these fundamental rules of due process are applied.

We, the men and women of this Association, serve the American criminal justice system, sometimes at the cost of our very lives.  We respect the verdict of the justice system in this case, and we continue to stand for the proposition that respecting the fundamental Constitutional rights of all persons accused of committing an offense, even when that person is a police officer, is no obstacle to the attaining of justice.  In fact, it is the very foundation upon which justice can be obtained.

The National Association of Police Organizations, founded in 1978, represents more than 241,000 sworn, rank-and-file law enforcement officers across the United States.

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